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A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                    285
was raising an enormous trail of dust over the dreary,
deserted fields. But before he could utter a word of pro-
test the driver turned off the road, and the truck, rattling,
raced towards the hollow.
As soon as they reached the hollow the senior lieuten-
ant got out and, squatting in the grass, vigilantly
watched the road.
"What are you making all this..." the younger soldier
began, glancing ironically at the officer, but before he
could finish the sentence the latter dropped flat to the
ground and yelled:
In that very instant two immense shadows, engines
roaring, swept right over their heads with a strange clut-
tering noise, causing the air to vibrate. Even this did not
frighten the younger soldier much: ordinary planes, no
doubt ours. He looked round and suddenly he saw by the
roadside an overturned, rusty truck belching smoke and
bursting into flames.
"Ah! They're firing incendiaries," said the mail-truck
driver with a smile, gazing at the shell-battered and
already burning side of the truck. "They're out for
"Hunters," calmly answered the senior lieutenant,
making himself more comfortable on the grass. "Well
have to wait, they'll be back soon. They are scouring the
road. You had better bring your truck farther back a bit,
boy, under that birch-tree over there."
He said this calmly and confidently, as if the German
airmen had just communicated their plans to him. Accom-
panying the mail was an army post-woman, a young girl
who had been sitting with the driver. She now lay on the
grass, pale, and with a feeble, perplexed smile on her
dusty lips, furtively looking up at the calm sky acr<*$s
which billowy summer clouds were rolling. It was for her
benefit that the sergeant-major, although feeling very em-
barrassed, said nonchalantly:
"We'd do better to get moving. Why waste time? A
man destined to hang will never drown."
The senior lieutenant, calmly chewing a blade of grass,
looked at the youth with a barely perceptible merry
twinkle in his stern dark eyes and said: